08 Sep 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the Players' Fund's fundraising challenges.
However, as Jean de Villiers proved during his rugby career – and the fund’s recipients continue to demonstrate – adversity is there to be overcome.
Creativity and more digitally-driven projects, such as the popular recent legends and women in rugby webinars, will be key to the fund’s continued success and sustainability.
'It’s important for us to have continuity and to constantly come up with new ideas to not only keep doing what we’re doing, but improve and help make the lives of the recipients a bit easier,' says De Villiers, who has been the fund's chairman since the end of 2018.
Now, more than ever, support is needed from rugby-loving South Africans.
'A large majority of our funding comes from SA Rugby and there’s a responsibility there to look after those who are seriously injured playing the game we love. However, being heavily dependent on that grant puts the fund at risk,' notes De Villiers.
'If we’re in a position where we have a greater variety and consistency of donors and become more self-sustainable, we’d be able to do so much more.
'In the current climate, being a non-profit organisation is difficult. There’s definite donor fatigue out there – everyone’s under pressure – so for us, it’s a case of tapping into South Africa’s passion for rugby and getting more businesses and people involved.'
De Villiers is buoyed by the support the Players' Fund receives from current Springbok stars, saying, 'For a lot of us, rugby’s given so much but, unfortunately, rugby’s also taken away a lot and there’s a responsibility to give back to those negatively impacted by the game.
'The current crop of Springboks understand that and we’re grateful for their support in visiting injured players and assisting in fundraisers. It’s encouraging to see because they’ll be the generation that takes over from us.'
In these unprecedented, uncertain times, what is certain is the burning passion and drive De Villiers and the rest of the ‘Fund family’ have to remain a rock that recipients can rely on.
'When we see or hear positive feedback from our recipients on the success they achieve despite their challenges and hear, in their words, how the fund’s contributed to that is extremely rewarding.
'To hear that we have helped in one way or another and to see the positivity the recipients still have toward rugby is fantastic.'
– Van Jaarsveld is the sports editor at eHowzit.co.za and a recipient of the Players’ Fund. For more information on the fund and to make a donation, please visit www.playersfund.org.za.